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How to edit a PDF on Mac

We are sure that on some occasion you will have seen the need to edit a PDF document, either to add information, edit it, incorporate your digital signature, or simply correct some content.

The PDF has become a universal format for documents and works on all platforms, be it Windows, macOS, Linux, Android or iOS, even if it is available in any operating system mode.

Sometimes, if you do not have a program like the one we propose here, you may have to print the PDF document to be able to manually fill it in a pen, scan it again to scan it, and finally be able to send it again by mail. All an ordeal.

Fortunately, to make our lives easier, there are compatible programs that allow you to process PDF documents helped by a computer or device. In short, edit and manipulate them to modify, add or even convert it to another format.

The latest versions of macOS already integrate functions that facilitate this process. Depending on the version of macOS used, PDF editing tools are integrated in Quick View (preview of a document by pressing the space bar).

You can also open the PDF in the Preview application and access tools to add text to the PDF, such as highlighting, underlining and crossing out text, rotating pages, adding and deleting pages, adding arrows and other forms, as well as adding comments to the PDF

But if what you want is to be able to have some more flexibility when editing a PDF, including changing the text and font, there are a whole series of dedicated applications that can make your experience editing a PDF of a higher level.

Here’s how to edit PDF files on your Mac for free.

How to edit a PDF using QuickLook

When Apple updated macOS to Mojave in 2018, it added the ability to edit PDF files with Quick Look.

It is a tool that allows you to open a preview of anything on the Mac without opening the software associated with the file. You can preview any document by placing it in the Finder. Click on the file and press the space bar.

Here we explain how to use the editing tools in Quick View to manage a PDF on a Mac:

  1. Locate the PDF you want to edit
  2. Select and press the space bar
  3. When you press the bar, a preview of the file appears on the screen
  4. In the upper right corner of the preview, click on the icon that looks like a pencil.
  5. Now you see the active editing tools, including one for drawing, shapes and another for positioning, with functions associated with text handling.
  6. When you click on the text tool, a box with the word Text appears inside. You can move it to the on-screen position and write whatever you want to add to the PDF. You can also move it if you click inside the box.
  7. The text is red by default: to change the appearance, select the drop-down box next to A and choose the color, font and size of the text.
  8. Some forms are designed to make them easier to complete and text boxes may appear automatically where you need to write.
  9. Once you're done, click Done to save the changes.
  10. Now you will be ready to share the PDF with whoever you want.

How to add a signature using Quick View

You may be surprised, but you should know that you can add your digital signature from this Quick View mode. To do this, follow these steps:


  1. Click on the Signature icon of the menu.
  2. Choose to create a signature among the options.
  3. Use your touch panel to add the signature or signature with your name on a sheet of paper and capture it helped by the camera of the team. You will get a better result if you use a black pencil.
  4. Now you just have to click on the signature to add it to the document.
  5. Drag me to the right place and change the size to your liking.

How to edit a PDF using Preview

If you have not updated Mojave or Catalina, you can still edit PDF files on your Mac for free, using the Preview application that is included with the Mac operating system.

  1. If you click on the PDF, it should open automatically in Preview, unless you have installed another PDF viewing program. In that case, right-click on the PDF and choose Open with> Preview.
  2. Click on the pencil-shaped icon to open the marking functions, where you will find a tool for text selection, a rectangular selection tool, sketch and drawing tools, shapes, text and text styles.
  3. As a vers, you can use various tools in Preview to add text, underline, highlight, draw and more. Next, we will see how to use these tools, but to add text to a PDF, the method is always the same.

How to add text to a PDF on a Mac

Once you have the PDF document open in Preview (or Quick View), try clicking on the space where the PDF indicates that you must enter some data. You may be able to write there; Sometimes, PDF files are set to indicate where you should enter the text.


If the text boxes are not configured correctly, you should create a text box as follows:

  1. Click on the icon that looks like a T with a box around it, or select Preview Tools> Annotate> Text.
  2. A small box appears in the center of the page with the word Text inside. This can be moved by dragging and dropping it anywhere on the page. You can also change its size to fit the PDF design.
  3. If you want to change the font, size or color of your text, click on the A icon inclined at the far right of the toolbar options. This will open the standard format option so you can alter the text and the justification.
  4. If you want to move text boxes, click on them and drag them.

How to copy text from a PDF

There are times when you want to copy text from one document to another, but this can be uncomfortable in PDF files. However, the preview has a simple solution. The first icon on the toolbar with a capital A and a lowercase letter enables the option.

  1. Click and search for the words you want to save.
  2. Highlight and then use Command + C, or right-click to display the Copy option.
  3. Now you can paste the text into any document or anywhere else in the PDF (whenever you create a text box).

Add notes and comments to a PDF

Another useful feature found in the Preview toolbar is Notes. This allows you to select an area in the document (text that contains errors, for example) and highlight it to alert the error or leave a message.


  1. To access Notes, click on the square icon with three lines inside. This will produce a yellow box in the area that you have highlighted.
  2. Write now any annotation you want to make and click on another part of the document so that the box closes and remains as a post it.
  3. If you want to modify or expand it, click on it and it will expand.

How to reorganize and add pages to a PDF

If the PDF you are editing, it turns out that it has different pages or you want to add more, by Preview you can also do it. This is how you should proceed:

  1. Start by clicking on the View button in the menu (above the tool Aa).
  2. Choose thumbnails to have an overview of all pages of the document.
  3. To add a new PDF, you can drag it from the Finder to this sidebar.
  4. To delete a page from the PDF, click on the thumbnail of the page to select it and then press the Delete key.
  5. To rearrange the pages in the PDF, simply click on the thumbnail of a page and drag it to move it up or down in the sidebar.

How to reduce the size of a PDF file

If you are trying to send a PDF via email to someone and the file size is too large, you can reduce the size.

  1. To reduce the PDF size, click File> Save (or Command + S).
  2. Click on the drop-down menu and choose Reduce file size.
  3. Then press save.
  4. The resulting document will be much smaller in size.

Add a signature to a PDF

You may want to sign the document, and this can also be done in Preview. We have a more detailed tutorial on the best editors of PDF files with which you can carry out a more advanced edition.


  1. Click on the toolbar that looks like a scribble and select Create signature.
  2. A window will appear where you can use your trackpad Like a virtual notebook. Whether with your finger or a pencil, draw your signature.
  3. If you don't do it right the first time, click on the Delete button and repeat it. Once you are satisfied, click on the Done button and your signature will be saved in Preview.
  4. To insert the signature, click on the scribble icon once more, then click on the signature you created and appear in the document in a text box.
  5. Now drag the signature to the appropriate area, change its size if necessary, then click anywhere else in the document the signature appears reflected.

Third party applications

As we have seen throughout the article, the tools provided by macOS Preview are an excellent solution to make quick changes to PDF files, but if you want to take things to a more professional level, you should consider a software dedicated.

PDFelement for Mac, for example, was created specifically to create, edit and annotate PDF files. You can redistribute text automatically and use OCR to convert paper documents or digital scans to PDF files that will be editable

In addition, there is the possibility of creating interactive forms from Microsoft Word documents or other text editors. So, if you create PDF files frequently, then it is worth taking a look at their possibilities.

There is a free trial version of software available to see their capabilities, and if it meets your requirements, acquire the professional version of PDFelement 6 for Mac, a serious alternative to Adobe Acrobat DC at a price of only 59.95.

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